Eleven stories demonstrating a broad imagination and a chameleon’s ability to leap seamlessly from culture to culture, subject to subject.
In the title piece, a Cuban high-school student invents a boyfriend to keep pace with her girlfriend, only to have the friend’s romance emulate the dramas of the imagined one. “La Perche” portrays a restaurant, born of the inspiration of a fat man and a bulimic woman, thriving on the themes of tragedy and eating disorders. In “The Details of Women,” a man is shocked when a girlfriend from wilder days in Paris intrudes on his suburban middle years, but this traumatic nostalgia might very well turn into redemption. The protagonist of “Make it Good” decides that the only way to finally lasso her reluctant-to-commit beau is to apply the techniques of the public relations firm for which they both work. A group of Gen-Xers who pride themselves on a “movement of no movement” threatens to unravel when one of its members begins to excel at their favorite pastime (“Take the Slackers Bowling”). In “The Bruise on Jupiter,” a Jewish woman struggles with her identity and her conscience as the punishment for having injured her own children fails to quell her desire to bear more. Newcomer Bannan consistently displays a rare literary fearlessness in the subject matter she tackles, stepping far outside the boundaries of personal experience and refusing to be pigeonholed in either content or style. The result is a vast portrait of a truly diverse America that is absurd, ridiculous, human, and spreading (in “Comfort Isn’t Everything”) to a Russia where you can sail past coffeebars with “all the ingredients in stock, past outlet malls where the air conditioning was just right. Cineplexes with 20 screens showing all the latest releases.”
A large new talent that can go anywhere it wants.